Sunday, February 13, 2011

Gnomeo & Juliet: Movie Review

Garden gnomes with the amusement but missing the brilliance of Shakespeare.

"Gnomeo & Juliet" falls a little short of its potential. Its premise has the possibility of entertaining while providing a great synopsis of William Shakespeare—maybe even inspiring a new generation of Shakespeareans. While it did entertain, I was mostly disappointed and found its Shakespeare references to be insulting rather than enlightening. 2011

Directed by: Kelly Asbury

Original Screenplay by: Rob Sprackling and John R. Smith

Starring: James McAvoy and Emily Blunt

"Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean." Apparently, the rest is boring. A squeaky-voiced garden gnome delivering a monologue is funny, but then when the gnome declares it boring, it's just aggravating.

Gnomeo is a blue-hat gnome, Juliet is a red-hat gnome, both from the neighbouring gardens of Montague and Capulet. Their families are at war, well, lawn-mower racing wars, but ceramic bodies have been broken and both sides are declaring revenge. Gnomeo and Juliet are both certain they are in love, and Gnomeo is determined to be with her, even when Tybalt glues her to a rock fountain. Most of their adjustments to the story are amusing, but I would have appreciated more than just a few meaningless references to other characters and play titles.

The highlight comes when the James McAvoy-voiced Gnomeo is sitting on top of a Patrick Stewart-voiced Shakespeare statue debating the merits of his play. Shakespeare declares that his ending is ingenious, Gnomeo thought it was terrible. For once, I was on the side of "Gnomeo & Juliet" and found the scene brilliant. I was hoping for more brilliance that just that scene, and the amusing scenes barely outnumber the aggravating ones, but it is just an animated movie about garden gnomes after all.